How unreasonable then is it to despair of mercy; while this season, this opportunity of obtaining mercy is afforded; unless you are determined not to improve it. The precious privileges which you enjoy, while this season continues, render despair still more unreasonable. What walls are these which surround you? Are they not the walls of God’s house, a place where he has recorded his name, and respecting which he says, Wherever I record my name, there will I meet with you and bless you?
The one who bows to the solemn and searching teaching of God’s Word, the one who there learns the awful wreckage which sin has wrought in the human constitution, the one who sees the exalted standard of holiness which God has set before us, cannot fail to discover what a vile wretch he is. If he is given to behold how far short he falls of attaining to God’s standard; if, in the light of the divine sanctuary, he discovers how little he resembles the Christ of God; then will he find this language most suited to express his godly sorrow. If God reveals to him the coldness of his love, the pride of his heart, the wanderings of his mind, the evil that defiles his godliest acts, he will cry, “O wretched man that I am.”
“Jesus often met there with His disciples.” (John 18:2)
Would it not be well if disciples often met there with Jesus? Is there not, indeed, a sense in which Gethsemane ought to be regarded as the very oratoire of the Church, the closet, spiritually, where we may, with many precious aids to faith, pray to our Father who sees in secret and rewards openly, as we shall see He rewarded the Man of Sorrows?
The most settled and general part of my unbelief may appear by the following hints, viz. I cannot view Jesus Christ in that loveliness, excellency, and preeminence, as I find him set forth in the word of truth. I cannot find sufficient ability in my soul to believe in him, wholly and unfeignedly ; and how can I believe in him, without a right view of him ? Sometimes I can set him forth to others, in the words and light of Scripture, so that I believe many of the children of God have their very souls nourished and fed by what I say: and upon certain times I myself am much delighted in, and with the work ; but when I retire into myself, and consider the barrenness of my soul, my strangeness to, and alienation from God, Jesus Christ?
We ordinarily and naturally lack the ability to raise and extract holy and useful considerations and thoughts from all ordinary occurrences and occasions. But a heart which is sanctified, in whose affections true grace is enkindled, will out of all God’s dealings with him, out of the things he sees and hears, will distil holy and sweet, useful meditations from them.
Ministers are set as guides and teachers, and are represented in Scripture as lights set up in the churches, and in the present state meet their people, from time to time, in order to instruct and enlighten them, to correct their mistakes, and to be a voice behind them, when they turn aside to the right hand or the left, saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it;” to evince and confirm the truth by exhibiting the proper evidences of it.
But perhaps it may be said, ‘I believe this, but I do not find peace in my conscience.’ Nay, but you do not believe it: if you did, it would certainly bring present relief; for guilt comes from the broken law, and from the apprehension of punishment deserved : but the law has been restored to its dignity, and made infinitely honorable by the righteousness of Jesus—how can you believe this, and yet be under guilt? The punishment was laid upon Jesus, and he suffered all that was due to his people, as their atoning sacrifice—how can you believe this, and yet fear that justice will punish you? A debtor would not fear to be arrested, if his surety had paid the sum, and got him a full discharge. A felon, with the king’s pardon in his pocket, would dishonor it greatly, if he was to live in continual dread and terror of suffering for his crime. Examine carefully, and pray for the right understanding of your case: and depend upon it, you will find that either you do not believe the matter of fact, or the record concerning it.
When the Holy Spirit has convinced a sinner of his being in this unrighteous state, then it becomes an important inquiry — how can the Judge of all the earth ever look upon and treat a sinner, as if he was a righteous person ? To which the gospel answers direct- ly — " God hath made Christ to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
THE WANT OF A DIVINE CALL A MAIN CAUSE OF FAILURE IN THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY.
We may sometimes trace Ministerial failure to the very threshold of the entrance into the work. Was the call to thesacred office clear in the order of the church, and according to the will of God? This question bears with vast importance upon the subject. Where the call is manifest, the promise is assured.1 But if we run unsent, our labours must prove unblest. Many, we fear, have never exercised their minds upon this inquiry. But do not we see thestanding ordinance of the church written upon their unfruitful Ministrations—” I sent them not, nor commanded them; therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the lord?”‘ The blast was not, that their doctrine was unsound, but that they preached unsent.
I do believe, from soul experience, that one of the greatest, if not the greatest burden and trial to the child of God, is the daily, hourly, minutely, momently workings of sin. The adulterous eye, the roving heart, the defiled imagination, the constant stream of iniquity polluting every word and thought, every feeling and desire, is and must be a burden to the soul, just in proportion as the fear of God lives and works in a man’s conscience.